Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Salon: The Begonia Bribe, Hex On The Ex, Gluten for Punishment

Once again we come to another Sunday Salon where we share the fabulous books that we’ve discovered and read throughout the pastcoffee and a flower week and learn of new books to explore in coming days.

It’s time to relax and unwind from the pressures of the week. Pull up that comfort chair and fluff up the cushions. Make sure you have plenty of your favorite beverage on hand, maybe a treat or two, prop your feet up, and let’s talk books.

Each month the good folks at Berkley Prime Crime release some of the most intriguing cozy murder mysteries on the market. This month is no excerpt with two of my favorite series returning with new installments and the start of a fun new series I’m looking forward to following. When it comes to cozy mysteries, you can find a theme for almost everything.

THE BEGONIA BRIBE by Alyse Carlson

Mixing beautiful flowers and a beauty pageant for little girls sounds like 9780425251621an ideal match, but throw in a murder and you have the plot for an intriguing cozy murder mystery.

It’s Camellia Harris’ job to promote the lovely gardens of the Roanoke Garden Society, but she never dreamed her job would include helping with a beauty pageant for little girls. When the Little Miss Begonia Pageant decides to hold it’s state finals in Elmwood Park, Cam has to spruce up the park in July, deal with the pint-size contestants and their sometimes mean-spirited mothers, as well as the judges.

Cam finds the drama onstage doesn’t compare with what goes on with the judges - jealousy, betrayal and a love triangle. Local newsman Telly Stevens, one of the judges, is married to the executive producer of the local television station WONK but that doesn’t stop his womanizing. Meanwhile, it appears somebody is also trying to stop the pageant altogether. When Stevens is found dead, apparently poisoned by some sort of plant, the drama heats up.

Cam has a whole garden of potential suspects and motives. She has to find the killer before the entire pageant fades away in the July heat.

Author Alyse Carlson has created a likable and realistic character in her protagonist Camellia Harris. Carlson has given her strengths and flaws that makes her a friend we’d like to know better. The added traits of the secondary characters makes for a well-balanced story. Carlson has a good mix of friendship, suspense, humor and a dash of romance woven throughout the story.

Moving at a steady pace, THE BEGONIA BRIBE draws the reader in and holds their attention until the last petal is dropped. While the setting is exquisite gardens, you don’t have to be a botanist to enjoy this cozy mystery. Cam and her friends will delight you as they hold you in suspense until the killer is revealed.

Carlson’s eye for detail will place you in the middle of the action. This is a delightful summer read for the cozy murder mystery enthusiasts. 

THE BEGONIA BRIBE is the second installment in the Garden Society Mystery Series, but can be read alone. For more background on Cam and her colorful friends, be sure to read the first installment, THE AZALEA ASSAULT (June 2012).

Author Alyse Carlson’s website is

The Begonia Bribe by Alyse Carlson, A Garden Society Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2013, ISBN: 978-0425251621, Paperback, 336 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
HEX ON THE EX by Rochelle Staab

A spunky protagonist returns for another encounter with the supernatural, but this time the bad omens hit too close to home.9780425252017

A Dodgers game to celebrate her father’s birthday is no picnic for psychologist Liz Cooper. Her ex-husband, Jarret, is the star player and her ex-best friend. Laycee, is in the stands. Jarret and Laycee’s affair are why they are both formers in Liz’s life.

But things are soon thrown off balance for the superstitious Jarret when a white pigeon, an omen of death, appears during the game and Jarret crosses a chalk line. It seems the omen continues off the field when Laycee is found dead in Jarret’s home the next morning. Jarret and Liz both become suspects.

Needing help to clear her name, Liz turns to one person she knows she can depend on her boyfriend, occult professor Nick Garfield.

Author Rochelle Staab continues to evolve her spirited protagonist Liz Cooper making her even more likable and enjoyable with each installment. The fascinating secondary characters add flavor and charm to the story as they grow with Liz.

HEX ON THE EX moves at a steady pace pulling the reader in on the first page and holding them spellbound until the last paragraph. Staab weaves a tale of romance, friendship, betrayal and suspense with just the right amount of superstition and humor blended in the mix.

Staab’s passion for research shows in her writing. You don’t have to be a fan of the occult to enjoy this enthralling book, just a lover of cozy murder mysteries.

HEX ON THE EX is the third installment in the Mind For Murder Mystery Series, but is a stand alone read. To follow the series, be sure to read WHO DO, VOODOO? (November 2011) and BRUJA BROUHAHA (August 2012).

Author Rochelle Staab’s website is

Hex On The Ex by Rochelle Staab, A Mind For Murder Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2013, ISBN: 978-0425252017, Paperback, 304 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Who knew gluten-free could be so enticing?

9780425252109Baker Toni Ryder makes her own way in the baking world preparing allergy-safe, gluten-free products for her online bakery, Baker’s Treat. When she opens a gluten-free bakery in the heart of wheat country Kansas, she may have gone over the top. Skeptical residents aren’t sure about her flour-free ways and then a local wheat farmer is found murdered outside her shop so suspicion grows even more.

The bad publicity and increasing vandalism could cause Toni to have to close her shop. She’s determine to find the real killer so she enlists the help of her eccentric and feisty grandmother. But when a second murder is discovered, Toni realizes the killer is out to do more than close her shop. Finding the real killer is the only way to save her shop and her life.

Author Nancy J. Parra has the start of a delightful new series that not only entertains but informs readers. Parra has given her protagonist Celiac Disease providing readers with a closer look at how gluten-free can be delicious. She has made Toni likable and realistic with zany secondary characters to add to the mix.

Parra has placed the story in a small town setting having an eye for detail that makes the reader feel they are there. GLUTEN FOR PUNISHMENT moves at a good pace keeping the reader guessing as she includes a few twists and turns along the way. The plot holds the reader’s attention from beginning to end.

While the story deals with living a gluten-free lifestyle, it’s not overpowering. The focus stays on the cozy murder mystery and the captivating cast of characters. This is a tasty treat for the cozy murder mystery lover.

GLUTEN FOR PUNISHMENT is the first installment in the exciting new Baker’s Treat Mystery Series. An added bonus is the delicious gluten-free recipes included in the back such as Gluten-Free Blueberry Coffee Cake.

Author Nancy J. Parra’s website is

Gluten for Punishment by Nancy J. Parra, A Baker’s Treat Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2013, ISBN: 978-0425252109, Paperback, 304 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thanks for stopping by today. Do you have a favorite series theme that you enjoy following? Aren’t the covers for cozies always so interesting?


  1. I love the Berkley covers.

  2. Mason - Three very different kinds of cosies! How right for Sunday Salon. And I agree - those covers are great!


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